How to stand out from your competition: Part II

06/23/2017 - Jordi Ordoñez

Were continuing with our guide on how to stand out from your competition. In the first installment we talked about how to do it through SEO and social networks. Today we have to jump on board with a couple more features that help distance us from our competitors: affiliation and email marketing.

How to stand out from your competition with affiliation

Affiliation consists of generating a sales channel through different users who are rewarded for each completed transaction or lead generated. The affiliate or publisher uses their own means to disseminate your products using blogs, websites, social networks, etc.

The most common is that when you share a direct link to a specific product in your store, include certain parameters in the url to make sure the attribution is done correctly. When the sale or lead is closed, the affiliate receives the commission agreed upon.

This means we work in a CPA (Cost Per Acquisition) type model and we dont pay for clicks or prints like on other platforms, which is the main advantage that affiliation has over others. We could say its a win-win because both the brand and the affiliate benefit.

Of course, for the strategy to work effectively you have to do your calculations objectively, to know what the maximum CPA is that allows for a viable sale through the affiliate program. It includes all of associated expenses, from the affiliates commission to third party payments like platforms and affiliate tracking software. Only if you have the cost of the strategy clear, can you be sure that youre doing things right.

How to create your affiliate network

You have two options when creating your affiliate program, the first is to make it “ad hoc”. This means carefully choosing the users you deem to be most relevant to your business, looking them up on social networks like LinkedIn, researching bloggers, discussion forums. You have to determine the scope, suitability, and topics where your interventions really stand out. Its a meticulous job and to a certain extent annoying, but it guarantees that youll have complete control over a selection of users.

If you choose this first option, its vital that you have a service to automatically track your affiliates. These services are solutions that integrate everything necessary so you can control your program: they follow the publishers and generate reports. Some of these platforms are:

Post Affiliate Pro:

Very in-depth, even on its lowest plan ($ 97 / month) it offers quite a few interesting features. It allows multiple ways to track the links and their attribution.

Omnistar:

An interesting alternative; its starting price is below $ 50 and its also a pretty complete service. It has a friendly interface which makes it more pleasant to use.

The other alternative to creating our affiliate program is much faster but at the cost of greatly sacrificing the detail and access level of our affiliates. There are different platforms on the market that you can use that take care of offering your products to your database of publishers who are divided into areas of interest, which means you avoid guess work.

Some that stand out the most are:

Awin:

Born from the union of Zanox and Affiliate Window, two of the heavyweights. They have more than 100,000 affiliates active in various regions and areas from finance to travel to, of course, e-commerce.

Tradedoubler:

Another reference point in affiliate marketing. It has an even higher volume of publishers (180,000 according to data provided by its website) and, like Awin, there are different business models.

Stand out from your competition with email marketing

The other strategy we wanted to talk about is one of the oldest that exists in terms of the relative atiquity of digial marketing: email marketing.

Although we dont say its the latest, it is still one of the most effective. If we start with a good emailing strategy, well have an advantage over any competitor. Well executed email marketing is an open channel for direct user-brand interaction.

Email marketing is more complex than we usually think, most companies are usually limited to sending a newsletter (or a million) and timely offers. Saying that theres a strategy behind this is as simplistic as saying that having a blog is doing content marketing.

Aspects to work on in email marketing

The most important is acquiring and configuring the database. You need subscribers and you need them to be your own. Oftentimes people buy databases but in my opinion, thats a mistake since generally, theyre low quality and have repurcussions like poor business figures.

The best way to get something is by giving something else in return. This seemlingly obvious idea doesnt always work when needed. Surely youre tired of entering different pages and being hounded to subscribe to mailing lists, but what do they offer you in return? In many cases nothing at all, so dont be someone that brings value to the exchange. If they give you their email you can give them a discount code on their first purchase; you kill two birds with one stone and get relevant content as well as quality thats alligned with their interests.

If we can make users think of the subscription as beneficial, all subsequent interactions will have more, better effect. After getting the database, it’s time to prepare it and segment it into lists. Work on this aspect in detail and the results will be better (higher opening rates, clicks, and conversion).

Extremely important: do not bore your users or youll trigger the churn rate and lose impact.

Types of emails in email marketing and when they make sense

As I said before, not everything is newsletters in email marketing, if you want to stand out from your competition you have to work on other formats. For example:

Promotional:

Design campaigns and send your emails ONLY when you really have something to offer. For example: it’s great that its Black Friday, Valentine’s Day or Tax Free weekend, but if you dont have any seasonal or specific sales, that email is worthless and it’s more spam than anything else.

Transactional:

For me, one of the keys to any well-planned strategy. These types of emails result in an action, which can be registering for the newsletter, becoming a user, making a purchase, etc. If you work on these emails you create and reinforce a bond with the user. Nows the time to build a relationship based on trust.

Informative:

Yes, the newsletters. The most important aspect of these emails is that they bring real value, meaning not everything is direct sales; thats what promotional emails are for. A good informational email is one that youre glad to receive, due to its interesting content and appropriate tone.

The strategic depth of both options, affiliate marketing and email marketing, is enormous and may even generate some synergies. For example, if its clear that email marketing is your more effective sales channel or the one that yields higher revenue, why not create an affiliation campaign oriented towards generating leads? If you cant close a sale on the first try, youll always have the email in your lists to try later.

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